Creating a fair work environment where everybody feels included is healthy for work productivity and great for society. As an employer, it will be your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees in the workplace. This should include the prevention of discrimination. So what is discrimination? It’s unfair treatment of a person or a group of people based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, political affiliation, marital status, pregnancy, or other personal characteristics. While workplace discrimination is prohibited by law, it still happens under the radar and can be difficult to spot. Many workers feel hesitant to come forward about discrimination out of fear of job loss or harassment, which is why it’s so important to create an environment where discriminators will be held accountable. Here is how you can help to prevent workplace discrimination as an employer.
You can start by educating yourself and your employees on what discrimination is and how to recognize it, according to eSkill. Become aware of what constitutes inappropriate behavior. Establish a set of rules that make your stance on discrimination clear. When putting your employees through the initial training process, be sure to cover discrimination. Inform workers that your workplace does not tolerate hate speech, harassment, bullying, or offensive humor. An employee handbook full of written rules will best communicate what is and isn’t appropriate for workers; try to outline the policies and consequences for rule breaking in this handbook.
Listen to Employees
The next step is becoming proactive in your prevention efforts. Set up a system where workers can report incidents of discriminatory behavior. A human resources department will be ideal for dealing with this. When a worker does report discrimination, follow all of the protocol expected of a boss: investigate the situation, enforce punishment for the discriminators, and if needed, fire employees who show signs of discriminatory behavior. This will make workers feel safe about coming forward.
Beware of Subtle Discrimination
Back when it was legally acceptable, discrimination used to be much more blatant and out in the open. In today’s world, discrimination takes subtler forms. According to Winer, Burritt & Tillis, even the suggestion that someone slept their way to a position in a company can be implied sexual harassment. Some employees may not even be conscious of their own biases, which is why diversity training is so important. In order to combat this, we must all become aware of our own potential for prejudiced bias. Ask employees to be on the lookout for unfair treatment. Look for patterns of bad behavior toward a certain group of people within the office.
As an employer, you can help combat discrimination in the workplace. Your office will be a more welcoming environment, and it is likely to become more productive as well.
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